I’ve stated before how much I really hate picking apart self-published comics. In the 1990s serious effort and money was required to get a comic anywhere near complete, let alone printed, published, and distributed. It is a process of dedication I can only respect.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that many of these efforts turned out to be underdeveloped and fell short of their full potential. And, despite a massive amount of creative production, as a whole SKEEMA #1 falls into that category.

The cover to my copy of SKEEMA #1

Now, let me be clear, there is a lot of great stuff in SKEEMA’s foundation – stuff that has been part of many great sci-fi stories;

  • The dying off-world civilization that needs human genetics to rebuild itself.
  • The mad scientist bent on revenge.
  • The attractive alien woman crash-landed on Earth.
  • The ex-cop with a past.
  • Shadowy organizations collecting alien artifacts.
  • Three breasted sex-bombs.

The actual story that unravels in Issue #1, when summarized, doesn’t seem like it could be so bad (SPOILERS!). We start with a mysterious man trying to escape into the sewers, eliminating his pursuers. Elsewhere Skeema’s mid-flight spaceship is damaged, forcing her to crash land on Earth. She’s found unconscious by former N.Y.P.D. Detective Grant who brings her back to his apartment and listens to her story about retrieving human DNA to rebuild her race. Agents from the secret Military Alien Reconnaissance Squad (M.A.R.S.) show up and Skeema viciously kills them all. Back on Skeema’s home planet the Big Bad, the Black Virgin, broadcasts a message; Skeema’s father (the man seen attempting to escape at the start of the issue) has been brutally killed, and Skeema is next.

And…done.

There’s a lot of stuff in there that could have created an amazing story. But SKEEMA #1 squanders that potential and goes very wrong by page 3…if you skip the inside cover’s lengthy and complex background information (which gets summarized in dialogue later on, so it ends up being mostly pointless).

What’s so wrong? Well, it would be cruel and unnecessary to list everything. What comes to mind are the terrible pun-liners (Skeema’s father kills a goon via electricity while saying he has “Extremely shocking news”), the strange and distracting text quirks (things randomly in quotes, and the inconsistent use of & in place of ‘and’), the ridiculous amount of bloody, graphic, and pointless violence (the human head does NOT have THAT much meat in it), clothing that seems duct taped to the characters (how does a leather strap, atop a pleather bodice, show a nipple bump?), the back story of every character spelled out when they first appear, and logic jumps a-plenty.

I know, I know what I just said in the paragraph prior to that about listing things, but I could go into more detail on more items. I haven’t even mentioned the yellow tentacle creature Dll (who I actually kind of like).

I feel that one major source of the story’s rushed pacing is that of the issue’s 32 pages, only 22 of them are dedicated to Skeema’s adventure. Yes, many comics don’t even get that many pages, or are limited to it by ads. But before you argue with me, and to prove the story’s page limit was a controllable detail, let’s break things down with some more bullets;

  • 22 pages for the story
  • 1 page for an “Episode 2” preview
  • 1 page advertising the ezine THE COMIC CLUB (powered by GEOcities!)
  • 1 page showing off the $65.95 Skeema collectible figure, limit 2,500 run (yes, you read that right)
  • 2 pages dedicated to 7 Skeema cosplay pictures (which suffer from the worst lighting in any photo shoot, ever)
  • 1 page for the Skeema Art File Of The Month
  • 1 page touting the Skeema Soundtrack CD (honestly, a pretty cool idea in my opinion)
  • 1 page advertising the comic SILVER
  • 2 pages dedicated to Skeema pin-ups.

So, just browse the above list for a few moments and think about where the future of SKEEMA could have shifted. Because, there are lessons to be learned here.

To begin, I only count two pages that could be argued as paid adverts – THE COMIC CLUB and SILVER. If they did get money upfront for these placements I cannot fault these pages being used for this. Printing is expensive.

But here’s where things start to slide.

I totally understand the enthusiasm to have one’s character immortalized as a statue. But perhaps that is an investment best made after the Issue #1 sales come in. Because, it is my bet, that had those figures not been created there probably would have been enough funds to publish issues #2 and #3 no matter how #1 sold (and have at least one more page to let the story breathe).

Also, I don’t care how good the costume was, or how nice and/or enthusiastic the model was, if you can’t see either of those in the cosplay photos, don’t publish them! Seriously, in 6 out of 7 photos I can’t even see the model! That’d be two more pages for more story (and, honestly, those costs are also funding which probably could have been better spent on printing costs).

Now, at this point I want to stop being a downer and cut creators Stan Padro and Oscar Perez some slack. I get how things can get away from you. I also feel that some of the problems with Issue #1 can be forgiven as being unavoidable. After all, it was the 90s – standards had basically gone out the window. Everything was EXTREME, SEXTACULAR, and VIOLENT!

Fuck the Comics Code Authority, yeah!

I 100% believe that if Issue #1 was redone today much of the violence would be better balanced and many of the character and plot issues would have been satisfactorily addressed or paced.

But we don’t have a 2012 version of SKEEMA #1. We have the 1996 version. A comic so – to be honest – distractingly bad I’m THIS far into a review and I have not yet really breached the topic of Skeema having three breasts!

Yes, her three breasts are awesome and certainly a high selling point. Most of the time there are visible nipple bumps through whatever she is wearing (even when it makes no sense). But no other women shown on her home planet have three breasts, so their presence is puzzling. Now, she is the daughter of a geneticist so it is (ickily) possibly that Daddy did a little experimentation on our heroine. Perhaps this mystery would have been explored more-so down the road, we’ll never know.

To add to her uniqueness Skeema also sports a robotic left arm that can interface with her gun and sprout long daggers strong enough to slice through a man’s face. So we have three breasts and a sexy cyborg thing going as well, and most of the time Skeema is barely clothed.

And these would all be things I’d want people to get enthusiastic about, except I just can’t say that I like the art. It isn’t bad. Let me be clear…it is not BAD. The boobs look great. But the style is an uncomfortable mix of gritty line-work and a super-hero cartoonism. It is as if Mr. Padro wanted it one way, and Mr. Perez wanted it another, so they decided to meet in the middle. Unfortunately, it is a very uncomfortable hybrid, consisting of characters who often don’t appear to be looking at each other or seem more elf than human. It is very distracting. With the story so bad the art should be the safe place to escape to.

But it isn’t.

And I mentioned there there are two pin-ups, each of which are actually really sexy and beautifully done. By themselves they’re great, but when compared to the rest of the book’s art all they do is remind me how Skeema should look.

THE FINAL VERDICT: If you are a multiple breast completionist who must have every example ever printed then this is a great comic to pick up, but everyone else is best to steer well clear of SKEEMA #1.

I don’t think I can make my position on this any clearer; the casual comic reader will get nothing of value from Skeema’s first outing. Almost every part of the story has been done elsewhere, and better. The writing is filled with stinted tropes and strange jumps in logic. The art is slightly unsettling, and when it is not overly bloody and violent I find myself distracted by the physics – when Skeema is revealed wearing nothing but a bath towel my mind should be screaming, “Wow! Look at the glorious double cleavage!” and not “How the Hell does a towel conform like latex?”

One would think the Skeema cosplay photos would be worth the cost of the issue, but they might as well have been shot in the dark with no flash. And although the two pin-ups are very sexy, they cannot carry Issue #1’s worth. Fans of multiple breasts will have some good clothed shots to ogle over in the main story if they can accept the art, and Skeema shows plenty of skin, but I know of plenty of online artists who already provide better – and nude – art for free. This really is a comic best reserved for the most dedicated of multiple breast collectors.

But please, don’t let all of this make you think Mr. Padro and Mr. Perez didn’t have some real potential on their hands. It is clear they had a glorious plan and expectations for our triple-breasted heroine, and things just didn’t work out. It’s almost worth reading for that. Hell, if somehow they’ve found this and have actually read this far – and don’t already entirely hate me – I’d love to talk licensing for a more refined future for Skeema…is there a better way for me to show my appreciation for what could have been?

It’s just what is that I can’t appreciate…